iCal connection: the easiest way to share the availability of your accommodation
11 April 2022
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In this article from the Octorate blog we will talk about the iCal connection: a very useful (but also limited) type of synchronization for the management of bookings and, above all, the availability of hotels, vacation rentals, room rentals or hostels on OTAs. Discover in the following paragraphs the advantages and the limits of this connection to optimize the management of your accommodation and understand how to manage it with Octorate!
iCalendar (or iCal, in fact) is the universal format used both by many e-mail and calendar programs (including Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar and Apple’s iCal), and also by the main online booking platforms (such as OTAs, Airbnb and other vacation rental websites).
iCalendar, iCal or ICS – if we want to use some of the available extensions – is thus a particular file format whose main characteristic is to contain details of events that take place on certain dates. Talking about the management vacation rentals and the hospitality industry in general, the events in question coincide with the bookings .
This format actually, allows you to share the availability of your accommodation with online booking platforms automatically.
But how does the iCal connection work? By sharing a calendar URL with online booking platforms! In fact, the portals access them at regular (and not very frequent) intervals to check and update the availability of each accommodation.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the update via iCal takes place at not very frequent intervals (in some cases, it may even be limited to a couple of times per day!).
This is due to the technical time required to pass information between the interconnected platforms, which, as it cannot be bypassed or reduced, could become a cause of overbooking,due to the moments when availability is not up to date (if you are not familiar with a word like overbooking read the article about what a channel manager is).
In addition, the information that can be contained in the iCalendar file is limited , and so are the functionalities of this type of connection.
We have in fact only talked about a synchronization of the availability.
This means that rates and content of each singlelistingon a platform like Booking.com or Airbnb, for example, still have to be managed manually (as opposed to two way, XML-based connections like Octorate Channel Manager).
However, it is important to keep in mind that managing a connection made through an iCal file is relatively simple and, if used to link portals that do not provide an excessive volume of bookings and for which little information flow is required, synchronizing your calendar via ical format still allows you to reduce many of the manual tasks involved in updating availability.
We can therefore define the iCal connection as an intermediate step between a manual process and an API connection.
In addition, the iCal format is a valuable alternative that enables you to connect to the Channel Manager all of those portals that are not currently connected via API or XML.
❓What is an iCal connection?
iCal is a universal format used both by many e-mail and calendar programs (including Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar and Apple’s iCal), and also by the main online booking platforms.
iCalendar, iCal or ICS is a file format that contains the details about upcoming events in a calendar. Events that, referring to the management of vacation rentals and hotels, for example, correspond to the bookings of the guests on the various online booking portals.
🎯 What is an iCal connection for?
The iCal format allows you to share the availability of your accommodation with online booking platforms automatically.
🤔 How does an iCal connection work?
An iCal connection works through the sharing of a URL of the calendar with online booking platforms! These portals access them at regular (and not very frequent) intervals to check and update the availability of single accommodations.
🚀 What are the advantages of an iCal connection?
The main advantage is that a connection made via iCal files is relatively simple and fast, especially for connecting portals and accomodations that do not receive a huge volume of bookings. Synchronizing your calendar using the ical format therefore has the advantage of reducing many of the manual tasks involved in updating availability.
🤢 What are the disadvantages of an iCal connection?
The update via iCal takes place at infrequent intervals due to the technical time required to pass information between the interconnected platforms. The risk is that this low frequency may become a cause of overbooking.
In addition, the information that can be contained in an iCalendar file is limited, as are the functionalities of this type of connection, which does not allow the synchronization of rates and content.
🐙 How to create an iCal connection with Octorate?
Octorate checks the ics data relating to the rooms in your hotel, B&B, room rental or relating to your flats in order to ensure that the information corresponds with the connected online booking portal: data will be synchronized, and, as a result, the dates accidentally left open will be closed and bookings and availability will be synchronized!
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